I’m Ali and my placement on the Charityworks 2016/17 intake is with the LGBT Foundation. One month after stepping off the train from Glasgow and I’m loving it. Here’s an outline of my first day at work and three things I hadn’t expected from my placement.
Day one at work was certainly unique – carrying a massive purple balloon around central Manchester, plenty of dancing and (literally) bags of glitter. Manchester Pride, undoubtedly the busiest day of the year for the LGBT Foundation, was an excellent way to start my placement. The pride parade and adjoining celebrations are a massive event for Manchester and its large LGBT population. It gives the charity an exclusive window to reach out to individuals who may use their health, wellbeing and counselling services as well as providing a stage for the LGBT Foundation to showcase their victories and successes of the year.
It’s fair to say I was thrown in the deep end. At first, my role for the year as the new Executive Assistant to the CEO seemed quite daunting. It requires me to work closely with the senior management team, politicians and a variety of stakeholders to ensure the influencing and critical networking function of the CEO operates as efficiently as possible. Already, it’s given me exposure to some fascinating individuals and taught me skills I’m sure will stick with me for life. Was it what I expected? Yes and no, but it’s definitely got me interested and I’m looking forward to the year ahead.
Back home in Scotland I hadn’t come across the LGBT Foundation before. However, its footprint in the north of England far exceeded my expectations. In Greater Manchester, the number of LGBT people is comparable to the population of Rochdale, and the Foundation has been a cornerstone of the LGBT community for decades. With around 40 members of staff, and an army of 100s of volunteers I was blown away by the breadth of activities and initiatives the Foundation supports.
With its size and increasingly strict funding environment, the LGBT Foundation has had to become as efficient as possible. I was impressed with the tightly organised workflows and carefully managed projects across the organisation – much more business-like than I had anticipated.
Another element of the role I had not fully anticipated was the crucial influencing role undertaken by the Foundation, securing an LGBT voice at the top decision making tables in government. Already, I have worked closely with stakeholders in the Department of Health briefed the CEO on political figures he has appointments with. This was an unexpected surprise for me, as I have always been interested in shaping the debate and the political dimension of the third sector.
Whilst my first day was certainly colourful and full of exciting new experiences I am fully aware how challenging this role will be, how much I will get out of it and valuable it will be for building a career in the sector. I’m already enjoying the year and can’t believe how fast it’s been going already!
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